Scientists from the Wageningen University in The Netherlands have presented the first version of the mapped onion genome.
Onions are the second most valuable vegetable crop globally, after tomatoes and researchers hope that a better understanding of its genetics could reduce the breeding time for new varieties, which can currently take up to 16 years. One of the reasons that the onion genome has not been mapped before now is its size: the genome of the onion is five times larger than the human genome, and 18 times larger than the tomato genome.
Wageningen UR is working in partnership with two companies – breeder Bejo Zaden and Service XS. The team hopes that a greater insight into the genetics of the onion will create the opportunity to breed onion varieties that grow better on infertile soils, improving food security. “I expect the onion breeding process to be twice as fast as a result of this project,” said Henk Huits, Manager Marker technology & Genomics at Bejo.